Tips for Stress-Free European Train Travel
These tips for European train travel are filled with insight into the lesser-known aspects of European train travel. Most of these insights were only discovered through our extensive travels over recent years.
Grab a cup of coffee, and spend 10 minutes absorbing the information below. Or click on a topic to make it more interesting. This will allow you to explore Europe by train.
- We have some tips for those who will be taking a train pass route.
- While you’re on your vacation and when you plan it.
- We’ve also provided information about the languages you might encounter while traveling by train in Europe.
Use journey and ticket planning apps with care
Apps and online ticket agents assume that European trains run on time and that you want to get there as soon as possible.
When you search for journeys that include changes of train, there are often options with shorter connecting times between trains.
Do not rely on the last train of the day
Avoid connecting to the last train on the day you travel long distances.
If your connecting train is delayed, the train you rely on to get you to your destination may not be there in time.
If you have the option to choose from a variety of routes for your trip, pick the one that sets off earlier than the last route of the day.
The 1st class is often cheaper than the 2nd.
If tickets for journeys with advance discounts are still available, tickets in the cheapest class may still be available but they have sold out for 2nd-class travel.
If this is the case, then you can book in 1st Class and save. The cheapest tickets for 1st Class are still available, but it’s rare so you will need to be lucky.
Be open to the possibility of flying First Class. However, make sure you check the price before making any assumptions about the cost.
Travelling in First class can offer better deals than Second if there is a difference of EUR5-10 in the price.
Avoid busy times
It can be easy to forget when you are on holiday that others still have to commute to work or travel for business.
If you are taking trains that DO NOT have to be reserved, avoid traveling into large cities between 08:00 to 10:00 and take trains from them between 17:00 to 18:30.
High demand times also cause prices to rise. This is partly because tickets that are cheaper sell out quicker at times when most people travel. However, long-distance tickets may be more expensive than usual during business hours.
Check the app or ticket website for departure times
It’s a good idea, even if you have to purchase tickets at the last minute station to check the train times before you go.
On busy routes throughout continental Europe, gaps of over 90 minutes between trains are quite common.
Popular daytime trains that run in the local or regional area, are great for day trips. They don’t have to operate according to a set schedule, especially in France, Italy, and Spain.
The easiest way to find train times online is to search the ticket booking websites. This works just like if you were buying tickets online.
Our ticket guides will show you the apps and websites that can be used to search for trains.
Avoid traveling long distances on weekends and holidays.
Railroad lines require maintenance and are often done on weekends or during holidays.
Trains still run in Europe, but they are often delayed or miss station calls. In Britain, however, the trains are replaced by buses.
You should plan your itinerary so you can travel long distances on Mondays and Fridays.
If there are any changes to the normal timetable, information on stations and trains will not be in English. Apps may not allow for last-minute changes.
It’s easy to get confused when schedules are altered. Our journey information may not be entirely accurate under these circumstances.
When you don’t need to, reserve long-distance journeys.
Joy of joys! You’ll travel on an express train, which doesn’t need to be reserved. It can seem like an unnecessary expense and hassle that can be avoided.
Be aware that 2nd-class travel is not recommended. You might find no seats on a long-distance train and have to board.
ShowMeTheJourney’s travel policy is to make optional reservations if more than TWO of these criteria are met.
- The journey takes more than 90 minutes
- – The frequency of train service is 1 x train per OTHER hour or less
- – Will be joining a train at an intermediate stop
- – Will be boarding at any station in between
- Mon-Sat, 08:30 and 10:30
- Mon-Thurs 16:30-18:30
- Friday, 12:30 and 19:30
- Summer Saturdays: 08:00 – 12:00
- Sundays, 14:30 and 19:30